A Thursday Reflection 7.28.16

I subscribe to a journal that offers an e-version spiritual reflection each morning at 6 a.m.  Last Saturday, I read the homily below written by The Rev. Emily Hylden.   She is reflecting on a rather severe passage from the Old Testament – something from which we clergy usually shy away.  But her thoughts are piercing and provoke my own meditation, prayer and seeking of truth.  So I share her reflection with you.

 

Repent, for Peace
Daily Devotional • July 23
By the Rev. Emily R. Hylden

All week we have been traveling through Joshua and Romans, encountering challenging words of truth; today is no different. Jumping to the end of Joshua, as the leader gives his last charge to the people of Israel, he doesn’t mince words — if the people of God obey the Lord their God, they will be blessed; if they wander astray, they will be cursed. Passages like this are common throughout the Old Testament, and like sections from earlier this week, the finality of this pronouncement make us uncomfortable with its lack of conditions or contingencies.

If we’re to take this narration of the world seriously, not dismissing it out of hand as the biased and rudimentary musings of a frightfully un-nuanced and uneducated people, we must confront the difficult truth of trial and curse visited upon our own lives. Sometimes this is applied as a belief in faith healing — if only one believes enough and prays hard enough, then the restoration of health is sure to occur (except that sometimes it doesn’t turn out that way). Another alternative is to understand these pronouncements as a society-wide prophecy, with focus not as much on our personal piety but on our corporate attitudes and acts.

Those of us who live in cities that have not yet been the scene of recent violence and those of us whose skin color allows us to forget about race whenever we care to can pretend that we are not affected or complicit, but the truth is that we are all part of the global community suffering violence. We can choose either to stand by and watch the world continue devolving into violence over race, religion, and political affiliation or we can choose to lay down our hardness of heart and our disobedience, seeking instead God’s forgiveness and redemption, begging God to usher in his peace.